It’s been a great week, as I and perhaps thousands of other teachers and schoolchildren see the end of the school year, the light at the end of the tunnel. We are just trying to crawl to the finish line at this point, but we know we are going to make it.

There were a lot of great things that fueled, challenged, inspired or motivated me. Here are the highlights.

On My Calendar

Tomorrow, I’m so excited to be taking part in a panel discussion on keeping your relationship together through infertility. Three years ago, I attended the conference, put on by the Kansas City Infertility Awareness Foundation. I didn’t expect 200 other people would be there. It was the beginning of my eyes being opened to see this great need, a huge number of people who believe they are suffering alone through childlessness.

On My BookshelfAll-Groan-Up-Cover-For-Web

I’m so happy for my friend, Paul Angone! His book, All Groan Up has finally been released. It’s been a long road for him to get this book out to the public. I can’t remember when he approached me for an endorsement. But it’s a great gift for grads, both high school and especially college.

In My Blog Reader

Perhaps the most impactful thing I read this week came from Rachel Boldwyn, as she shares what appears to be a completely counter-cultural philosophy on teaching children to share. When was the last time we really examined the assumptions we have about teaching selflessness, and are we really doing the opposite? A must read if you have or deal with young children.

K.C. Proctor has been on fire, producing his book and podcast on parenthood from a dad’s perspective. I loved this post, Three Stupid Words Every Dad Should AvoidDads, really. Get these words out of your vocabulary today.

There are hidden opportunities in our churches for serving and loving others. Nish Weiseth discusses the opportunity we have in the families with special needs children, families who usually are shuffled around or pushed to the edges because people don’t want to get involved with their stuff.

Finally, Abby Norman shares some real ways to be counter-culturalHint: it doesn’t have to do with hair, clothes or music.

That’s it from me. See you next week!

Does our generation suck at marriage?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last week, I found this article by twenty-nine year old Anthony D’Ambrosio. He met his wife in 2004, married her in 2012, and here we are, three years later, and he’s divorced.

Thus, he says, the millennial generation’s marriages are doomed. Marriage “doesn’t work” anymore. We just can’t handle it.

Now, I take exception to that, as I’ve been married nine years and counting. I know, not a huge number, but nearly a decade is nothing to sniff at either. D’Ambrosio made a few good points, but I wondered…

…Are we really a generation headed for relationship armageddon?

I don’t think so.

Continue Reading…

This weekend, Cheri and I took the boy to the antique mall.

We had something specific we were hunting for, but we also just like to look at old stuff. It can be a revelatory experience to see your Grandma’s heirlooms, or the precious items you had in your home, sitting on the shelves of an antique mall with a five dollar price tag. Suddenly you realize that your family had the same mass-produced stuff that everyone else had. It’s just the memories that you attach to those items that make them valuable.

While hunting for “unique” items, we found this Barbie doll, part of the “My Favorite Career” series. This “Rocket Scientist” Barbie was released in 1965.

"Yes, I am a Rocket Scientist!"

“Yes, I am a Rocket Scientist!”

Now, who am I to say that the little girls who received this doll were not encouraged to think about their career choices? For all I know, Rocket Scientist Barbie did her job, and she looked good doing it.

But Cheri and I had a good chuckle at what Barbie is saying on the box: “Yes, I am a Rocket Scientist.” We couldn’t help but think it sounded a little defensive. “Yes, I am a rocket scientist!” As if no one at the cocktail party believed her when they asked what she did. They assumed she must have mistakenly said “rocket scientist.”

Part of the fun of looking at old things is seeing just how silly so much of it looks now. Watch any of the old shows on Netflix, Dragnet or Hawaii Five-O. They are pretty silly. Sometimes they are painfully silly. But people enjoyed them at the time, without any irony.

That’s the challenge of doing creative work. Very little of what we do is going to last. Our work becomes dated. It goes out of style. It becomes silly to the people who find it later.

There are two things that do not become dated:

Wisdom

and Beauty

Wisdom and Beauty are completely fair, completely timeless things. Styles and tastes in beauty change, and peoples’ perceptions of what is wise changes. But Wisdom and Beauty are like objective truths.

temporary

If we want our work on Earth to last, to matter, to be a little more permanent, to not become kitsch in an antique mall, it’s best if it is pursuing Wisdom and Beauty.

It’s the time of year that all Art teachers know.

It’s the season when our rooms are bulging with too much stuff and not enough room to cram all of it. It’s art show season and my social media feeds have been awash in photos of teachers displaying their students’ best work. It’s a great time of year to steal ideas. But today, I’d like to share just a few of the things that came out of my room this year.

This is the work that made me jump for joy, pump my fist in the air and remember why I teach art. Remember, you can be creative too. You just have to start.

An exterior view of the Nelson Atkins museum here in Kansas City. I'm saying goodbye to several great artists in our senior class.

An exterior view of the Nelson Atkins museum here in Kansas City. I’m saying goodbye to several great artists in our senior class.

Farm fields with fourth grade.

Farm fields with fourth grade.

Ships at sea. This picture is so perfect in person, it makes me wonder if it was actually intentional or mere coincidence.

Ships at sea. This picture is so perfect in person, it makes me wonder if it was actually intentional or mere coincidence.

"Great Waves," like the famous Japanese painting.

“Great Waves,” like the famous Japanese painting.

Panda bears from first grade.

Panda bears from first grade.

I can't take any credit for this senior's work, and that's the best feeling. The most I contributed to her success is writing her letter of recommendation. She is going to the Kansas City Art Institute on scholarship.

I can’t take any credit for this senior’s work, and that’s the best feeling. The most I contributed to her success is writing her letter of recommendation. She is going to the Kansas City Art Institute on scholarship.

I always thought I had an opinion on matters of life, of conception, of the sanctity of it all.in-vitro_1443936-300x277

But infertility opened my eyes to just how complicated life really is. It also gave my wife and I plenty of ethical quandaries to consider.

Today, I’m guest writing over at Evangelicals for Social Action:

While everyone says that a baby is a “miracle,” infertility can provide a special glimpse of just how miraculous a baby really is, how audaciously beautiful life itself is. However, infertility and its treatment can also bring many ethical quandaries.

Though we may consider ourselves pro-life, and feel that we are educated on matters of life, it is safe to say that our churches and communities are not educated about infertility and the myriad of ethical problems that treatment can bring to a desperate couple. From the growing prevalence of stem-cell research, to the recent advances in the UK toward three-person in vitro fertilization, it is clear that while in vitro fertilization becomes more normalized, the most vulnerable humans on the planet are becoming ever more commoditized.

It is more important than ever that we understand how the next generation is not just going to be raised but conceived.

Join me at ESA and think about how conception happens in the “brave new world.”

This weekend, I finally completed a project that I’ve been working on for a long time. I finished transcribing the autobiography of one of my great-aunts.

For her ninetieth birthday, I sent her a tape recorder and told her to just talk. She did, for hours. 

My aunt grew up in the Depression, went to a one room schoolhouse, joined the Navy, had her tonsils out without anesthetic, helped run a dairy farm, and a whole lot more. As I listened, I found myself not wanting to type, but just listen. Every now and then, she would use some vocabulary word that would be foreign to me, so I’d have to look up something like a “Burroghs Bookkeeping Machine” to make sure I had the correct spelling. But that inevitably led to me reading about this completely obsolete machine that I would have no idea how to use.

It struck me as I listened that some memories had attached themselves to her mind with no particular rhyme or reason. It wasn’t that the details were especially important, they had just stuck with her.

That’s the thing about living. You never know what tiny thing will happen today that will lodge itself in your memory. Today will probably be a very ordinary day; you don’t expect to tell your grandkids or nephews and nieces about it. But something that happens today could still make it into your autobiography. You never really know when you are living one of those memorable moments.

Yes, you never really know when you are living a memorable moment, but you put a bunch of those little moments all together, and suddenly, you have led a fascinating life. Nine decades are condensed into fifty pages, and it becomes something worth remembering. It becomes something your relatives want to preserve.

I suppose that we all want to be remembered, but I’m not so sure that as many of us are willing to do the work to live lives that are worth remembering.

remembering

Maybe we change that today. Today will probably be an ordinary Monday. But you never know. You just might have an opportunity to tell someone about what happened today, a few decades from now.